BOSTON — The U.S. secretary of the interior will join representatives of New England's commercial fishing and lobster industry in Boston's seaport neighborhood Tuesday to discuss the conflict between commercial fishing interests and offshore wind development.
Tension between the commercial fishing industry and offshore wind developers has been a constant thread as the new industry looks to establish its roots in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New England
U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt will hear more about the issue during an 11 a.m. roundtable organized by advocacy group Saving Seafood's National Coalition for Fishing Communities at Legal Harborside.
Last month, an update on the Vineyard Wind I project planned for water 15 miles south of Martha's Vineyard from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management — which falls under Bernhardt's jurisdiction — concluded that "major cumulative effects could occur on commercial fisheries" under the proposed development plan and all alternatives "due to the presence of structures (impact-producing factors) when combined with ongoing and future impacts as a result of climate change and reduced stock levels as a result of fishing mortality."
BOEM has said that it "recognizes that fishing is an important use of federal waters that will be considered in its decision-making."
The five developers that hold leases for offshore wind sites off New England made a proposal late last year to orient their turbines in fixed east-to-west rows and north-to-south columns spaced one nautical mile apart.
In May, the U.S. Coast Guard sided with the developers over the objections of commercial fishing interests that had pushed for six designated lanes, each four nautical miles in width, through which they could travel without encountering any of the hundreds of turbines that could some day populate the waters.
The fishing industry representatives are also expected to share with Bernhardt their appreciation for the Trump administration's recent proclamation reversing Obama-era restrictions on commercial fishing within the Northeast Canyon and Seamounts National Monument, a 5,000-square mile area of the Atlantic Ocean about 130 miles from Cape Cod.